5 pro tips for pitching HR tech to your company

November, 2017

HR tech

We hope that you are enjoying the blog series by Pivot for the upcoming #HRTechFest2017. This blog @HRTechFest’s topic: Building and Communicating a Compelling HR Innovation Business Case.

The Power of Technology

Accenture claims that we should “use the power of technology to improve our world”. Technology exists to benefit us and adoption rates reflect this. According to Bersin, there are over 150 million employees using cloud-based HR systems around the world. Yet, many companies are lagging when it comes to investing in HR technology. I ponder why?

I am writing this blog from my own personal journey in HR, particularly from a sales perspective, selling technology. To give you some background, I studied Human Resources Management at university in the early 2000’s and though I did not end up in the chosen profession, I believe in my heart that this people centric role is to help evolve the business by empowering its people.

Why the Resistance?

In my sales role, I have been lucky to have met some strong leaders who are passionate about the people part and have a strong desire to make a difference via automation. Unfortunately, I also get to witness the struggles of HR folk in implementing such a change. HR technology is often categorised as a cost to the business that requires justification of spend. In contrast, their fellow peers in marketing appear to have bigger budgets to create creative ad campaigns etc. The difference appears to be that one is viewed as a revenue building exercise while the other is considered a capital or operational expenditure without any tangible P & L benefit.

It is very common to see budget funding for technology projects either not approved or moved from one year to the next, leaving People Operations with no option but to continue to manage processes manually.  ROI Calculators and white paper on creating a business case can help HR in their business presentations.  Sometimes, these tools are very handy when the objective is to save resource time (System Administration and Decision-Making Managers time). At other times, it takes more than time savings to justify the value of automation.

Below are some sales tips that can assist the People Leaders in pitching the adoption of HR technology at your company. This methodology can reap great rewards in engaging the powers-that be like a sales pro!

1. Understand what is the driver for the business?

Often, technology purchase decisions can come down to the different personas of the decision makers and influencers within a company – what is in it for each of them. The project manager in the HR team can start the information gathering process internally before engaging a technology vendor. Preliminary work involves understanding:

  • Who are the parties that will need to sign off the spend?
  • Is this expenditure coming from IT, Finance, HR or some other budget?
  • What is the process – do these stakeholders need to see vendor demonstrations?
  • What are the individual’s key needs in their roles?
  • What are their individual challenges or pain points?

It may be easy to assume that the shared vision of all stakeholders would be cost and time savings. However, the ROI for a HR technology implementation should not be measured just in dollar terms. Its impact is much more than that. For example,

  • What is the value of empowering managers?
  • What is the benefit of simplifying business processes?
  • Where does “being ready for innovation” take the business?
  • What does the use of technology vs manual processes do for your employment brand?
  • What is the value for reducing risk?
  • Is enhancing compliance a priority?
  • When you are building a culture of accountability, how does that add to your bottom line?

2. Create affiliations

IT is one department that you will need to create a relationship with. After all, technology is their area of expertise. There have been numerous publications by Bersin  that provide reasons why HR and IT need to work together, so I won’t go on about the benefit of this affiliation. We find that if IT is not driving the project, they will want to at least check the security and stability of the solution. It is also good to find out how the product is best accessed by staff– via Single Sign On or via username/password like your network settings. At times HR teams may feel that building a system from scratch internally may be an idea. This is when you need to ask yourselves:

  • Is building your own system the best strategy forward?
  • Should IT spend time on building and maintaining internal HR systems or your company products?
  • How quick can they turn the build around? What is the internal capability like? What if these IT team members leave the company in the middle of the project?
  • What is the cost of building that system inhouse?
  • What is the cost of maintaining that system inhouse?
  • What is the IT team’s capacity in maintaining and supporting your system?
  • What happens after Year 1, when process changes? Do you rebuild another system?

We all know in the business world, life changes, restructures happen and HR needs to be agile in their policies and processes to reflect and adapt very quickly. Staying focussed on giving your employees a good user experience is extremely important. Bersin studies also promote the concept of design thinking.  For your employees to embrace any technology, usability is extremely important. A specialist technology vendor spends a lot of R&D dollars to maintain and update their product to maintain its viability in the market. You don’t want to build something from scratch that sits in your closet because no one is using it. You don’t want to bring the old spreadsheets and word documents back in to play again either.  This can sometimes happen if the software is difficult to use. User experience is king they say!

3. Keep it real in your research

Most clients these days do a quick Google search of solution providers and organise numerous meetings and demonstrations with vendors to see which ones get the most ticks against their criteria list. Some also consult external research reports and pick a few without doing any further homework on vendor fit. Whilst secondary research is good in understanding the technical requirements, I encourage you to keep it real by using the power of networks. The real research comes handy when you are speaking with ‘fellow peeps’ who perhaps have gone through a similar journey to you.  For example, you read from a report that this big US vendor does everything and you may think it’s good to have just one supplier. Now, question yourself, how realistic is that for your business?

  • Will this integrated vendor: “Jack of all trades, Master of none” really deliver on functionality, time and budget for all needs? If not, where do you want to compromise and why?
  • Is it important to you that you deal end-to-end with the supplier of the software?
  • Are you ok dealing with a third party “implementation partner” of this supplier, who may be unaware of the conversations and commitments made during the sales process?
  • What are your peers saying about their support experience?
  • Are your peers still using spreadsheets or manual processes despite buying all the bells and whistles from this vendor?
  • Is this vendor able to configure for Australasian needs? Believe it or not, Australia and New Zealand do things differently to the USA.

So, informal references can provide that insight that formal references do not. Let’s face it, no technology vendor will provide you with the references of their problem clients.

4. Let the vendor do the hard yards

It may seem appealing to take control and present your two shortlisted suppliers to the executive team. However, another option is to partner with the vendors and let the vendors do a quick demonstration. As a project manager, what you need to supply the vendors with are the drivers of the decisions makers.  Vendors come across numerous objections in their sales lives that you may not be familiar with. So, delegation would suit you well here.

 5. ‘Close’ at every step by checking-in

You are selling a new idea to your business: the idea of automating a HR/people function, the idea of making a difference in your employee’s lives and the idea of creating an impact to the business. You are in fact going to be that pioneer that ended the era of spreadsheets flying around and mail merges creating headaches. Let those old nightmares have a peaceful rest. So, you are that internal sales person who is bringing not just a new tool but a new way of doing things. In every ‘sales interaction’, there are objections, so closing at every step is essential. It simply means to remove every objection that may act as a barrier to move forward. Your great listening skills comes in handy here – address what your stakeholders are objecting to and why.  A good sales person also educates with empathy. This is in your HR blood so use that ability and close those objections effectively at every step.

You are now ready to create that compelling business case, because you are speaking the language your stakeholders use. Your proposition is about solving their problems and addressing their needs rather than yours. You are relating the business objectives with people focus using technology. You have tied in all facets together and indeed you have become a champion sales person internally!

Stay tuned for our next blog series for the #HRTechFest2017 and please feel free to share your comments on how you found these sales tips for HR.

Want a high performance culture? HR enable it!

November, 2017

Performance culture

One of the topics @HRTechFest2017 is “”bringing our organization on the journey: Culture Awareness and our Role as HR leaders”. Over the years, your role in the people and culture function has undergone many transformations and understandably, your function has been labelled differently either by your own peers or by the outside world. On one hand, you may have received criticism for being “bureaucratic, dysfunctional and out of touch with reality” while on the other hand, you have been recognised as ‘human resource champions’. I would like to acknowledge that the business world has rapidly changed in the last 20 years and you have had to adapt accordingly, whether you were given the time and opportunity to prepare for it or not. Case studies have been written of high performance cultures where your dedication to people empowerment have been applauded. Simultaneously, I also empathise that you have also been at the receiving end of true bashings, whether it was justified or not.

I agree with the evaluation made by Dave Ulrich’s 2017 study that looked at the evolving role over the last 30 years. Ulrich attests that People Leaders are their own harshest critics despite having made progress.  While individual case studies of various companies may differ, the competency levels of the group have risen overall. Yet, there is no need for complacency because we cannot state that HR has arrived. It is fair to say that it has been a journey, one that I support whole heartedly.

One cannot deny that the HR role is powerful and if performed well, can be strategic. However, we also witness that we are challenged by the mountain of administration that is highly labour intensive. We have been advocating that precious time can be saved using automation where possible, allowing this time to be devoted to driving change by empowering managers rather than policing them.

HR technology solutions come with inbuilt tracking monitors that can provide instant reports on progress updates. These automations can provide you the relief to stop focussing on tasks completion and start building manager capabilities.  We believe that HR can become that true agent of cultural change. Pip Youngman, Pivot’s CEO believes that traditional thinking was ‘what gets measured gets done’. The new thinking is to trust and empower managers by allowing them to use their emotional intelligence. Hence, rather than building a process and enforcing a blanket policy for all mangers, you use the data on hand to drive and recognise good behaviours and address any behaviour change needed of managers by coaching the selected few. This will be a much more efficient use of your time and change the perception that HR is a policeman.

I personally look forward to seeing the true skills of the People and Culture profession being utilised. In my world, I see those HR skills as empowering ones: negotiation, handling difficult situations with great tact, employing emotional intelligence, nurturing and supporting where needed and being firm where required. These skills have been taken for granted. I hope to see you bring that back in a new style, a new sass that takes control, because I sincerely believe that you are the driver that brings about true cultural change.

Digital transformation – 5 ultimate ways HR MUST drive performance

October, 2017

There is much one can learn about the digital transformation of the modern-day workplace from the recent Tom Hanks and Emma Watson movie, The Circle. While the movie takes a somewhat dystopian/Orwellian turn after the first few minutes, the present day workplace is not that different regarding the hyperconnectivity, cross-functional work culture and a business leader (of course, Tom Hanks) who is looked at more of an inspirational leader than the CEO of the company. If that sounds familiar, that is because these are the terms that are increasingly being used to define digital transformation.

Surveys indicate, about 60% of the surveyed HR leaders/managers are dissatisfied with the current performance management processes in place at their organisations. And if that was not enough, 58% believe that performance management processes and tools are helping neither performance nor engagement amongst employees. That sounds bad. The operative word in that sentence being – ‘sounds’. With the right measures, HR leaders and managers could be at the very forefront of driving performance in this present digital realm. So, let’s briefly explore five ways an HR manager can turn things around.

1. Embrace the Three Golden Ds – Don’t Deny Digital

Acceptance is the first step to turning this scenario around. Many HR managers and even leaders are still trying to apply outdated performance management measures to present day workplaces. According to Gartner, performance management of the future will be a more real-time, open and streamlined – thanks to the era of seeking instant information. The report says more than 70% of the surveyed organisations think performance management will need to be overhauled for it to remain effective. Hence, the first step is to accept and embrace this changing digital realm and start thinking of new ways of handling (and thus, driving) performance management.

2. See a problem? Don’t ignore it.

Sounds simple? Not really! We all know the dreaded ‘Iceberg of Ignorance’ – the top management of any organisation only knows about the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of workplace issues. Organisations are becoming flatter and flatter. This is an opportunity for the HR manager to lead from the front by creating policies that ensure workplace problems concerning employee performance do not remain hidden from the decision makers. In the hyperconnected work-environment HR managers can guide and coach the line managers to bring in more social, less formal, instant-feedback. This is where you as an HR leader can shine in the digital workplace.

3. Think of communication and coaching as the new performance review

Many employees, as well as managers, think of performance reviews as a sheer waste of time, morale and productivity. So what can you as an HR manager do? Consider rethinking the old way of only assessing performance annually to frequent, genuine, upfront and transparent communication between the employees and management. HR’s role is to facilitate such an environment. In addition, HR leaders can create learning and development programs for managers that inculcate empowerment. Where necessary HR can offer short workshops on interpersonal communication and inclusive leadership skills so that they can better relate to their team members and be inspirational instead of being directional.

4. Understand the ‘social’ needs of the employees

Yes, that sounds tricky – because it is. A new emerging concept that can assist HR leaders of today is peer-to-peer recognition. In the social media world, the desire for connectivity stems from love for likes, shares, followers and subscribers. This social phenomenon has reached our work lives.  HR can take advantage of this by enabling feedback mechanisms where staff can provide instant inputs into recognising the effort or achievements of other employees on certain projects or milestones that they share with each other. This can be an easy and fun process where, for example, HR can drive a Friday initiative where employees can nominate and vote for titles such as Mr/Ms Helpful/Rockstar/Fill-in-the-blank of the week/month.

5. Identify your multipotentialities

In her famous Ted Talk, Emilie Wapnick talks about something vitally important for every HR leader – the rise of the ‘multipotentialite’ millennial. To drive performance management in the present day scenario, HR leaders, as well as business leaders, will need to understand that the young workforce coming in is going to be specialised in more than one skill and that cross-functional teams are the way of the future. Their needs for grooming and achieving their full potential are going to be remarkably different from the more conventional workforce. According to Deloitte, empowering digital leadership will be a key factor in the days ahead, and HR leaders will need to provide the right tools and the freedom that are needed to empower these digital leaders. Some vital skills, that HR can equip their people leaders  with, are understanding of the digital market, management of cross-functional teams, entrepreneurial spirit and handling high-risk scenarios.

Go Back to Basics’ with performance management. This white paper will help you align your performance processes according to the changing needs of your business. Click here to download it.

As a build up to the 2017 Sydney HR Innovation and Tech Fest, we will be covering more such articles on our blog so stay tuned.

The robots are coming! Should human resources teams fight or embrace HR automation?

September, 2017

When you think of robots starting to play a more significant role in HR management, do you think of:

A) A helpful, non-threatening robot with the duty of relieving you of mundane, repetitive tasks. Through the use of clever HR automation it will give you more free time to work on strategic and human aspects of your role.HR automation is awesome


B) A robot that is marketed as a helpful time-saver, but is actually an annoying gimmick that produces disappointing results.

HR technology is overrated


C) A very scary, post-apocalyptic, unstoppable force that is coming to terminate your job and take over the world.

HR robots are going to take over my job

So what’s the right answer? How should human resources professionals feel about ‘the robots coming’?

When you hear statistics from studies, like Gartner Group, stating that on a global scale, a third of our jobs will be lost to robots by 2025, it feels natural to panic and shun new technology from entering the workforce. However, HR Trend Institute also warns that “in the vein of evolutionary necessity, HR departments that fail to adapt and incorporate AI in their work are bound to be replaced by more progressive teams.”

It sounds like a lose-lose situation, right?

If you’re concerned about your job being replaced by a robot, this fun tool ‘will robots take my job?’ calculates the ‘automation risk level’ of job roles in the future.

So, HR Managers – relax. Your job results are:

  • Automation Risk Level: ‘Totally Safe’ (or 0.55% probability of automation).
  • Projected growth for Human Resources Managers: 9% by 2024.

Now that you know that your job is safe, how should we view the ever-changing technology that we will inevitably be working with? Believe that it won’t replace you – it will enable you. You control the technology – the technology does not, and never will (unless The Matrix becomes a reality) control you.

Repeat after me…

HR automation, bots, the cloud and AI are:

  • Servants not masters
  • Enablers not inhibiters
  • Empowering not disenfranchising
  • Going to increase efficiency not diminish your ability.

Sarah Kruger, managing director at Accenture, and panellist at the upcoming HR Tech Summit in Sydney reflects this positive attitude. In a recent Human Capital Resources magazine article Sarah concluded that, “Workforce technology can often seem intimidating, and discussions and case studies can emphasise how technology is here to empower workforces, not replace them.”

Technology provides freedom by being able to streamline key Human Capital Management (HCM) functions like salary reviews or performance management, enabling them to be strategic advisers in the business rather than simply HR process managers.

HR Trends Institute agree. They confirm that many HR teams are already utilising automation and robots to:

  • crosscheck internal data with external data
  • carry out a lot of the tasks pertaining to spreadsheets
  • help them with the reports.

The result? HR Trends Institute revealed, “these teams end up with a considerable amount of time that they can dedicate to more strategic and nuanced issues, including personal interviewing and employee training.”

Instead of worrying about robots taking over, we need to look at what is standing in front of us. We already use technology all the time to make our day to day lives easier. Products are available to automate the mundane, repetitive tasks that HR spend hours administering, yet we still find many organisations trapped in using ‘what they’ve always used’ – inefficient legacy systems (i.e. spreadsheets, word merges, or a custom-built inhouse database).

Robots of some kind will come with high tech analysis and predictive abilities, and they too will have a place in the HR world. But why not take baby steps and embrace what is on hand today, rather than fear what is coming tomorrow?

To learn more about how technology can empower your HR processes, download the white paper, ‘The Freedom to Fly: Why you shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to HR technology in your business.’

HR technology white paper

HR Spotlight: Alison Kennedy

July, 2017

At Pivot, we engage with HR professionals on a day to day basis and often get to see the same faces at various client sites. We enjoy watching their career transitions and support their career paths. Alison Kennedy is well known to us here at Pivot and we have enjoyed dealing with Alison at numerous organisations such as SKM, Coffey International, News Corp and Ventia.

Peoplecorp recently interviewed Alison to understand how to make a success of an executive interim career. As usual, Alison provides great insights that we feel may be useful for our readers. Hence, we are sharing this blog with  you.


How to make a success of an Executive Interim career

As more and more organisations demand executive interim management roles, senior candidates are weighing up the pros and cons of switching to this career model.  With a highly successful HR career spanning 20 years, Alison Kennedy made the choice to become a career contractor in 2009. An experienced Executive Remuneration Professional and Change Manager, Alison agreed to share the insights she’s gained over the last 8 years.

Alison, it’s a big decision to strike out on your own into the world of Executive Interim assignments. What was the driver?

At the time it was more around life circumstances than a career choice. I was a single parent of a 5 year old, doing an MBA and the excessive hours and pressure that came with the role I had at PwC just wasn’t working anymore. At the time I took 3 months off to figure out what approach to my career was going to work (and to sleep for a bit!). My first client appeared nearly by accident as a GM HR reached out to me to provide an executive remuneration review for their management team. That project turned into a 3 year client and a wide variety of interesting work.
Before too long I had a number of longer term clients and a mix of projects. The working pattern was controllable and I was able to take breaks when I needed them, or say no to work when it wasn’t of interest. The key driver for me was flexibility and a good match to a work style.

When you started out, what were the stand out differences you noticed between being a permanent employee and working on an interim basis?

The emotional freedom is the biggest difference. Personally I am very committed to the people I work for and with. Everyone understands that the political environment sometimes gets in the way of doing your best work. As an external employee, the politics bother me less and I am able to focus more on the quality of the work and worry less about the detractors that might sit inside the business.
Having an end date gives me the drive to work as hard as I can, knowing that there is a break coming up. Mostly I fall over after big pieces of work as I tend to give a bit too much personal energy in the process. Not everyone is suited to the intensity of that style of working. It can be a challenge to ensure that you look after your own well being when you are caught inside some significantly constrained deadlines. It’s a work life full of intense periods of work contrasted with the break where nothing is on.

What sort of assignments do you generally work on and how long do the normally last?

There is no normal when it comes to a career of projects! I’ve had projects that have been more aligned to ongoing retainers (being a couple of hours) to 6 weeks, through to longer term pieces that are 3-4 years. Sometimes I find myself returning to a business to manage the annual remuneration review 3 years running. Each time is a little different, new challenges and extending on the previous years work. I aim to always leave a business in a better position than when I arrived.

In terms of the assignments – I now describe my core skill as someone who sees a clear solution through the mess: whether the mess be data, technology, structural or physical (I also have a business working with Chronic Hoarders). There is a theme of remuneration management technology implementations, remuneration strategy and frameworks, data improvement and incentive design. I can’t count how many Annual Remuneration Reviews I’ve worked on!

At the moment, I am focused on building a recognition strategy and platform which is a really interesting piece that is bringing together human behaviour in relation to reward and experiences of organisations in urgent need of culture change. I’m a big believer in the need for organisations to begin to see their employees as more than assets. It’s a one on one relationship – and relationships require both parties to meet each other’s needs. It’s a new era of skepticism and truth seeking – and I think that the employer – employee relationship is about to face some harsh new truths about what’s acceptable and what’s required for success.

Tell us about your most challenging assignment

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. It resulted in working 16 hours a day for 6 days a week for 8 weeks straight. Massive project with no other resources. I engaged with the HR business partners early on and they became my off-siders on the data needs. I also engaged on day 2 with the tech provider Pivot Software – and the trust based relationship we already had developed over the years, allowed me to focus on the absolute necessary and let them worry about the technology. Without the day to day fast delivery from the HR team and the support from Pivot – I never would have made it to the finish line.
I slept on a beach in Fiji for a week after that one.

What advice would you have for senior HR professionals venturing into the executive interim market for the first time?

Best advice is to walk in with the primary goal to “make your boss and others around you look good” – Interim work doesn’t come with a lot of long term praise of thanks. So you need to be a little tougher than most and get your satisfaction from the buzz that comes from delivering quality work in short timeframes and leaving the business in a better state that when you arrived.
Next advice – would be to talk to your accountant and make sure you plan your finances. Interim project work doesn’t always go end to end and you need to continue to pay yourself in the breaks. A consulting style career requires family agreement and the ability to make sure you can financially manage the down time. It’s a risk that permanent employees don’t face, so get financially educated and prepare for it.

And for our clients thinking of engaging an executive interim manager, what are the key things they should put in place to ensure success?

Be flexible in the outcome. Interim workers come with the benefit of more experience over shorter periods of time, current market knowledge and sometimes they can take a piece of work to places that you didn’t expect. So work with their experience and take advantage of the outsiders view. A project outline can be coloured by the internal politics and “the way things get done” – be open to new ideas and approaches and your project will over deliver every time.

Be sure to meet with them each week to stay in touch. Be aware of the risk of over-working your consultant on projects that are set up to fail. Many times a project has too many goals and doesn’t account for realistic time frames.

Thanks very much for sharing details of your professional journey with the HR community Alison, such valuable insights!


Blog post originally published here.

The anatomy of a pragmatic (but lovely) Performance Review

May, 2017

PivotDepending on the type of company you belong to, performance reviews can be smashed out every quarter, held annually, scrapped altogether or organically evolved from regular staff-management catch ups. They are the lifeblood of employee development, compensation allocation and promotions. Which understandably makes them rather nerve-racking for employees. They can also be a difficult operation for HR teams and management to nail. With all the subjectivity involved, accurately dissecting an individual’s performance can sometimes feel akin to brain surgery.

Are performance reviews dead?

In past blogs we’ve discussed how some companies are purging numerical performance ratings and transitioning to the more ‘hip’ methodology of informal feedback throughout the year. This doesn’t mean the death of performance reviews. CEB Global reported that after an initial, positive reaction from employees after abolishing formal ratings, employee engagement drops by 6%. Top performers’ satisfaction with pay differentiation decreases by 8% because managers have trouble explaining how pay decisions are made and linked to individual contributions, and manager conversation quality declines by 14%. To us this indicates that data, structure and processes are still important when it comes to evaluating employees’ performance.

Although the shorter, more laid-back evaluations are being praised as less stressful and more relevant by employees, there are ways HR teams and managers can still ensure this doesn’t undermine the effectiveness of their remuneration framework.

So how can we produce and deliver accurate, useful and clear-cut performance reviews that aren’t nail-biting for employees to sit through?

Formal or informal, there is a certain universal order when it comes to bringing a performance review to life, and it involves using both your brain and your heart. The art of performance management comprises goal-setting, measuring progress and providing feedback. These processes need to be data-driven and pragmatic, yet communicated with individuals benevolently and encouragingly.

The brain part: The bones of a great performance review

1.    Definition of business as usual activities

Agree on what is “business as usual” activity, which are typically the standards expected in a role, that if not met would be considered grounds for poor performance discussions.

2.    Realistic goals connected to business strategy

Document realistic and achievable goals which can show a connection to the business strategy – this removes any element of misunderstanding about what you as a manager and the organisation sees as important.

3.    Above and below the line behaviours

Agree on above the line and below the line behaviour – if anything, it helps when you have to have the hard conversations… ”remember we agreed that this wasn’t acceptable…”

4.    Recording processes

And of course it makes it much easier if all of this is written down for easy reference at your regular catch-ups. How regular is regular? This depends on the role and it may not be appropriate to ‘legislate’ this across the business, instead coach where appropriate on an increase in regularity where necessary. A role focusing on daily and monthly tasks often needs more regular check-ins than one focusing on longer term goals.

The heart part: The characteristics of a performance review that drives growth

1.    Everybody understands the organisational goals

Performance management is a means to implement organisational strategy by letting staff know what is vital in the organisation, setting accountability for behaviour and results, and helping to improve performance.

2.    Establishing a culture of open communication backed up by an inspiring management style

This is a stepping stone to conveying the fact that a review process is a constructive activity that benefits the company, but most of all it advances the individual’s career.

3.    Rewards align with organisational goals

Ensure that the ways in which employees are recognised and rewarded for high performance are closely aligned with organisational values and objectives.

4.    Encouragement (not punishment!) for low-performing staff

If there are staff members that complete the performance review process and discover that their performance is not up to the mark, this shouldn’t be cause for worry. They should know that opportunities for improvement through training and development exist within the organisation and that they’re still valued as contributing members of the larger team.

Once these fundamental requirements for a performance management process are in place, clever use of technology and software can supplement the benefits.

If you would like help with diagnosing issues for your performance review process, here are some handy resources we can prescribe:

Give your performance evaluations some love

May, 2017

PivotPerformance evaluations are getting a hard time lately. Businesses are calling them ‘irrelevant’, ‘dated’ and ‘stressful’ and dumping them altogether. But are these businesses really better off without them?

Last year CEB Global reported that at most companies, employee performance drops by around 10% when ratings are removed because of breakdowns in managers’ ability to manage and a fall in employee engagement.

Perhaps it’s time to kiss and make up with performance evaluations?

Our friends over at Betterteam think so. They just published a useful Beginner’s Guide to performance evaluations to help HR and management improve the way they conduct performance evaluations.

Betterteam identified one of the main issues with businesses no longer being attracted to performance reviews is that they don’t address the modern workplace very well. For example:

  • An employee usually works with many leaders in the company, so it is doesn’t always make sense to only have one leader assessing their performance.
  • Quarterly or annual appraisals don’t deal with issues when they happen. It’s hard for employees to gauge how well they are performing and how they can improve throughout the quarter/year if they aren’t given continual feedback.

How can we modernise evaluations?

For performance reviews to truly deliver value to employees, company leaders and the company itself, it’s not enough to simply switch a few of the evaluation mechanics around, you must consider the big picture.

Performance management is the ‘big picture’ above performance reviews that involves continuously setting goals, reviewing progress and giving ongoing feedback. Nailing performance management will trickle down to help restore the integrity of performance reviews, whatever way you decide to run them.

In the longer term future Betterteam suggests using innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) will help to alleviate some of the human biases that naturally creep into the processes.

Aligning performance and compensation seems like a given, but it is actually more complicated than first meets the eye.

Emphasising personal performance as the only incentive measurement can encourage behaviour that makes the individual look good, but is ultimately detrimental for the company. Another issue with this sort of culture, is if the company doesn’t actually have enough money to give someone a raise or bonus, even if they perform exceptionally.

Betterteam encourages businesses to adopt the more modern approach of associating compensation with company-wide measurements of success. These tactics also tie in with the importance of continual feedback, rather than just quarterly or annually, to help keep employees focused on achieving company goals and aligned with best practice strategies to achieving these.

It is important to understand that you shouldn’t treat performance reviews like a static, unchanging process. As you grow and change as a business, it needs to grow and change along with it, to complement the company structure and culture.

Modern tools are available to help HR teams calculate and track these actions, including Pivot’s Remuneration Ally and Performance Ally.

Does your performance review process need a little lovin’? To help it flourish and positively affect employees and your company, download our eBook, ‘Why the death of performance reviews has been greatly exaggerated’.

Evolution of Compensation Management Systems

April, 2017

Pivot’s CEO Philippa Youngman was recently interviewed for Total Rewards, a quarterly publication focussed on Compensation, Remuneration and Rewards trends produced by Aon Hewitt for the Indian market.

Q. HR as a function has not been one of the early adopters of technology. However, the game has changed in the last couple of years. Do you see this shift?

Evolution of compensation management systems

A.  There is a shift in HR understanding in the sense that they are no longer playing an administrative role handling the softer aspects of HR, but it’s evolving to include taking ownership of people strategy, using metrics, focusing on aligning themselves with the business and partnering with the functional units. The rise of HRBP roles would indicate that HR is working closely with divisional and geographical areas which provide them the opportunity to pay close attention to the impact of HR on business activities. I think, in the early days HR felt that the human aspect of what it means to grow and support your employees would be taken away with the use of technology. However, what has transpired is that technology helps to highlight facts and therefore, either supports or reduces the subjectivity of people-related decisions. It also helps to reduce the mechanical aspects of people management processes that require no emotional intelligence, leaving HR to provide impact at a strategic level, knowing that the technology is offering security, efficiency and accuracy to the data and workflow.

Simultaneously, the expectations from HR as a function are also increasing. For example, managers desire to be empowered to make better compensation decisions for their teams using project goals data, KPIs and other performance indicators. Even where conversations such as performance ratings are out of the door, HR is still using some form of metrics to provide that objectivity in rewards outcome decisions. This is where technology is expected to change the game for not only HR but for organizations overall.

Managers desire to be empowered to make better compensation decisions for their teams using project goals data, KPIs and other performance indicators.

Q. What according to you are the main triggers for organizations to adopt HR tools and technology solutions? Any areas within HR where you see this happening more than the others?

A. From a business perspective, the trigger is the responsibility to provide a stronger experience to the decision-makers – line managers, CFO, CEOs – having a line of sight, transparency, accountability and empowerment. Technology enables HR to provide that superior data and analytics-backed experience and service to their stakeholders. Time is of the essence and with digitization as a focus area, organizations understand that technology is imperative for their success.

The compensation review process is the ideal first step towards systemizing HR. This is because there is often already a tool or process (usually Excel) that has been used to manage the data, the decisions and the communications to all those that need to be involved. However, such tools have limitations when we consider data security and integrity due to the usually high level of human interaction necessary to get input from many individuals, disaggregation and aggregation of data sets, etc. So the organization is often unaware of the potential risks associated with a process that is running smoothly due to the skill of a select few. A platform for change is often triggered when a key person leaves and their knowledge and expertise goes with them. At the same time, the compensation managers crave to use their HR qualifications to make an impact, rather than spend sleepless nights worrying about data integrity, human error or doing admin work. This is when we often get a call.

Q. Rewards managers are now expected to be more than salary increase administrators. In your experience, what are the key benefits derived by organizations through implementation of compensation management tools?

A. For three to four months of the year, the rewards managers are seen to become data manipulators to manage the process of salary decisions when their expertise often relates to the strategic benefits of rewards and their responsibility to the organizational and people goals. Getting the salary review process right, and doing it efficiently with the help of tools serves dual purposes – creates credibility among managers in the system and then provides the time for a rewards manager to assist with the policy evolution, strategic plan design, etc.

To me, data security and integrity is one of the often ‘hidden’ benefits. If the process goes well, then these two issues do not present themselves. However, any data breach or inaccuracy affects the credibility of all involved as well as the employer brand. It is hard to quantify in monetary terms what this means, however, we have heard of many stories where this has provided the catalyst to a purchase of a robust solution to manage the process. The financial analytics and reporting is a key output derived by organizations through these tools. Budget modelling, matrix simulations and the whole diagnostic and descriptive analytics and reporting around it can take compensation reviews and decisions to new sophisticated levels. From a strategy perspective, compensation reports are now focused on what to present to the board – the emerging trends, analysis and gaps and not just static data.

Managers’ time saved, reduction in timeframe to complete the compensation review, budget spend alignment with better transparency gained via automation are other common measures for organizations to see whether investing in technology has brought about the right results.

Q. Organizations are seeing a shift towards clearer rewards philosophies, sharper pay differentiation, and greater decentralization of pay decisioning and communication. Do you see these trends impacting the need for best-in-breed compensation management tools?

A. The key thing with making compensation decisions is providing real-time facts to the decision-maker to avoid the need to revisit or further negotiate outcomes. These include dynamic answers to questions such as ‘what is my budget?’, ‘how am I performing against that?’, ‘what are the key policy statements I need to be concerned about?’, among others. A traditional process would involve communication prior to a compensation review event that educates managers about current market trends, budget this year, focus areas, etc. and they are often expected to filter this as they make each decision. A best-of-breed solution often has its origins from the heart of the true business problem – recognizing the real-life experience and problem that needs to be solved and providing guidance at each phase of the decision-making process to ensure everything is staying on task and the expected outcome is delivered accurately and on-time. The beauty of best-of-breed is the depth of expertise and knowledge that comes with the tool, ease of configurability and flexibility. Organizations today face growth, mergers, acquisitions and restructures which need to be taken into consideration when it comes to pay. A best-of-breed provider is able to adapt to these in an agile manner. They do not need to develop a code from scratch if life changes, they can simply make changes at a click of a button and that is the efficiency that is required at the time of salary review which is usually a time bound process. Failure to comply quickly with organizational changes is not taken lightly – human beings are very attached to their pay outcomes and rightly so.

A best-of-breed solution often has its origins from the heart of the true business problem – recognizing the real-life experience and problem that needs to be solved and providing guidance at each phase of the decision-making process to ensure everything is staying on task and the expected outcome is delivered accurately and on-time.

Q. How do you see Pivot’s online compensation management tool benefiting organizations in India, majority of whom use Excel sheets for budgeting and salary increases and administration?

A. India as a nation has a large workforce and managing processes for those many people on Excel is often problematic. Audit and governance implications are important to consider. Excel, in essence, remains a manual tool and is personal to the creator. The data also has to ‘arrive’ from somewhere and ‘go somewhere’. Aggregation and disaggregation of data is inevitable for a salary review process and although a high level of care does occur, human intervention creates the opportunity for error. Analysis of compensation review outcomes can only occur at the point of aggregation, which is often after the decisions have been made. So, the rewards manager is left with two choices – narrow down the degree to which a people manager can make discretionary decisions to ensure organizational policy is delivered, or analyze it after the event and identify areas for improvement for the next year. With an online tool, more real-time analysis can occur and decisions redirected during the process to arrive at the desired outcome. Often the decision-making can be further devolved from senior managers because the system can manage the key aspects such as organizational policy and budget.

India comes with a workforce that is technology savvy and embraces innovation. This cultural shift needs to occur in the HR world simultaneously to keep up with the ethos of where the country wishes to head towards with regards to technology and digitization.

Q. How do you see the space evolving in the next five years?

A. In the next five years, I believe we will see an ecosystem of tools for each HR process where organizations can choose freely the best-of-breed tools that suit their organization’s requirements and culture. Data will move seamlessly between the tools even though the providers may be different. No longer will it be seen as necessary to choose one provider or associated providers for all HR needs due to data integration challenges. In addition to this, I see a rise in expectations from the tools to be able to combine both internal and external data to provide higher degree analytics for business aligned compensation discussions and decisions.

Pivot Software has partnered with Aon Hewitt to provide its solutions to Indian companies wanting to simplify the management of their remuneration review process. The interview was originally published in the latest issue of the magazine. It is also published here.

What all the cool HR kids are doing in 2017

March, 2017

CoolKidsYou know that group of girls at school who could make just about anything ‘cool’? The ones where if they bought a new fluffy purple back pack, one week later everyone else in class would also be donning a fluffy purple back pack? The trend setters. The sophisticated. The ones everyone wanted to copy.

These people still exist in the HR world. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of all the new HR trends for 2017, the things that all the ‘successful’ HR departments are doing, but remember what your mum told you – “Don’t just follow the crowd”.

You know your company, the people, who they are, what they respond to. Take the time to understand their desires and motivations before you launch a new HR process not simply because ‘everyone else is doing it’.

In saying that, it is good to keep an eye on what aspects are working for other companies and consider whether they’d benefit your own company.

Browse through these top HR trends that all the ‘cool HR departments’ are using and see if you can inject some improvements back into your own processes in a more original, true-to-your-company’s-values kind of way.

Performance Management’s face lift
Employees want to feel like their skills are benefiting the company. Their desire for improvement and growth has driven HR departments to focus on using performance tools that will encourage staff development with more regular feedback.

Automated HR
HR professionals have gone from using manual HR processes  to designing and implementing specialised HR tools. With technology, HR can create employee journey maps and experiences to quickly visualise employee performance, impact,  career and job transitions.

Combining HR tools and team management
Traditional HR tools focused on helping HR, but companies are now moving towards HR tools that help employees know what they need to do to succeed.

Predictive people modelling
HR professionals are getting more savvy with the way they use their people data. Predictive modelling is being used to map out future trends based on past data.

Dynamic learning for dynamic jobs
The majority of corporate jobs require constant learning as technology and processes evolve. Learning is now considered more self-driven and self-motivated rather than structured by a higher management level.

Detailed staff feedback and insights
Instant interaction options are being used to provide regular feedback to management\ rather than using a survey tool once a year to get 360 feedback. Companies have found that more frequent ‘impersonal’ way of communicating gives staff the opportunity to be more honest and report issues as they occur rather. This gives employers more detailed information than they’d usually receive in a one-to-one meeting.

Work-life balance more valued
Companies recognise that work-life balance is key to fostering sustainable workforces. Apps for wellness and fitness are incorporated to help improve employee engagement.

Although these trends may seem like they’re getting more complicated with the ever-increasing use of technology tools, automating HR processes actually makes things more simple and easy to use.   As Albert Einstein once said, “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Can any of these trends be used to simplify your own HR systems? Not just to follow the crowd, but actually genuinely bring value to your HR processes?

These fancy ideas are being talked about a lot across the HR sector, but it is always important to first ensure your system is working on a solid foundation before adding any new, more complex additions. Our whitepaper ‘Back to Basics’ will help you to align individual performance with organisation objectives and boost productivity. Click here to download it.

How to apply REM in the Gig economy

March, 2017

Gig economy and RemJust like a rock band, touring from place to place, the ‘gig economy’ professionals jump from company to company, collecting meaningful experiences and developing their personal skills and values along the way. Gone are the days of people loyally working in one company for their whole life. Freelancers and job hoppers now rule the market. The driving force behind this trend is the Millennial generation (those born between 1982 – 2004), 77 million+ of which already make up the workforce.
According to Deloitte, Millennials will spend no longer than 16 months with any employer on average because of their insatiably high expectations of finding purpose in work and opportunities for dynamic career progression.
The gig economy gives Human Resource departments the unique challenge of managing the expectations of Millennials and communicating the purpose they desire to stay in a role. When it comes to remuneration reviews,  a competitive pay is very important for Millennials, but it is not the only aspect that matters to them. Additional perks have to be present to keep them engaged at a company.

In addition to salary, what do Millennials want?

  • Purpose
  • Feedback
  • Personal life balance
  • Interesting, rewarding jobs
  • Opportunities to learn new things
  • Understanding on why they’re doing something

Engagement is essential for Millennials to want to stay at a particular company. Naturally, Millennials act as consumers when it comes to work, browsing for jobs that align their values and wishes. If they do not feel engaged in their current role, they have no issue moving elsewhere. However, if they work under someone who invests in their development and gives them opportunities to learn and grow, they are more likely to put down roots in that company.

These personal motivations are just one out of four key dimensions Human Resources should be using in their Remuneration process with Millennials (and all employees). The other three are:

  1. Remuneration Philosophy
  2. The Market – External Competitiveness
  3. Internal Equity

To learn more about using these four Rem process keys to build a strong employment offer and improve employee engagement, download the Pivot ebook ‘(don’t) show me the money’.


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